Good Samaritan Shelter of Phoenixville held its third annual Night of Awareness event April 11 at Valley Forge Christian College (VFCC). Proceeds from the overnight campout fundraiser go toward supporting the shelter.
People who attended the event enjoyed many different activities throughout the night, including assembling care packages with donated items for shelter residents, a candlelight vigil and sewing a quilt with encouraging messages for the shelter. There was also an overnight campout for those willing to experience the feeling of homelessness firsthand. New this year was the addition of large cardboard boxes for attendees to decorate and sleep outside in.
Two former Good Samaritan residents, Justin Crowell and Danny Boychuck, also spoke to the crowd to raise awareness on the issue of homelessness and to share their personal stories.
Boychuck said he was most thankful to the shelter for their service and just for being there.
“Most people help, but to hear somebody who actually went through it – it shows them their helps pays off, that somebody actually made it. Not everybody makes it,” said Boychuck.
Nate Hoffer, executive director of Good Samaritan Shelter, said the event grows bigger each year. Hoffer also spoke to the crowd on raising awareness of homelessness on a local level.
“The whole purpose of the event is to make us more aware of the plight of the homeless and the fact that there are homeless in our community, and then to give us practical things to do, said Hoffer. “There are people who really struggle here.”
Hoffer said the shelter hopes to raise awareness in younger people by holding the event at VFCC, so they can get involved.
“The people who are here are really engaged and committed,” he said.
VFCC student Alicia Rivera wanted to get involved in the Night of Awareness by hearing other students talk about the event.
“Homelessness is a very big aspect of our mission here at Valley Forge Christian College,” said Rivera. “It’s something I wanted to try to be involved in. This year they added some stuff like the cardboard boxes that they sleep in, that’s something new. They’ve been updating it as the years have gone on, so I was just interested in it.”
Rivera added it was especially important for younger people in the community. “A lot of people do know [about homelessness], but they aren’t taking the steps to try to help out the community. I think it’s very important for the younger generation to be involved; it changes their perspective on life,” she remarked.
Hoffer said people who signed up to attend raised funds by being sponsored. This year, over $8,000 was raised at the Night of Awareness event.
Robin McNeil, an assistant at Good Samaritan, said proceeds go towards the shelter.
“We have five homes in Phoenixville that we maintain, so we have expenses for repairs and maintenance. We have supplies that we provide for the men. For our emergency shelter, we provide food. So it goes to all that,” she said. “When people think of shelters, they think of dormitories with bunk beds. That’s not what we have; we have homes. It’s a lot nicer for the guys. You’re coming back to a home and not to a cavern.”
More information is available at goodsamaritanshelter.org.